Tag: TEDxSanAntonio

Encouraging Girls to Become Engineers

Luz Cristal Glangchai, founder of VentureLab, photo courtesy of VentureLab

Luz Cristal Glangchai, founder of VentureLab, photo courtesy of VentureLab

Luz Cristal Glangchai, a scientist and founder of VentureLab in San Antonio, spoke last month at the fifth annual TedXSanAntonio event.

Glangchai wants more girls to become engineers. She runs a nonprofit organization which teaches kids as young as five to high school age skills in entrepreneurship and to experiment in the science, technology, engineering and math fields.

Three students companies from VentureLab have already raised $240,000 in funding, according to Glangchai.

Before launching VentureLab, Glangchai served as the director of the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Trinity University. She also managed the Idea to Product Program at the University of Texas at Austin. And she founded NANOTaxi, a drug-delivery company that developed disease-responsive nanoparticles to target tumor tissues.

Glangchai holds a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from UT Austin, as well as doctoral certificates in Cellular and Molecular Imaging for Diagnostics and Therapeutics, and in Nanoscience and Nanotechnology. She holds an M.S. in biomedical engineering, a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering and a B.A. in the Plan II Honors Program from UT Austin.

TEDxSanAntonio Sparks a City of Ideas

Founder of Silicon Hills News

Graham Weston, chairman of Rackspace and Susan Price, founder of TEDxSanAntonio

Graham Weston, chairman of Rackspace and Susan Price, founder of TEDxSanAntonio

San Antonio has evolved into the City of Ideas, said Graham Weston, chairman of Rackspace.

“The whole genesis of TED is about sparking ideas and spreading ideas and that happens every year at TEDxSanAntonio,” Weston said

This is a culture Rackspace wants to be a part of, Weston said. Rackspace served as the main sponsor of the daylong TEDxSanAntonio event at its headquarters’ event center on Saturday.

“The speakers for TEDxSanAntonio share new ideas with us and also give us a glimpse of some of the cool stuff people are doing across the city that often is unknown,” Weston said. “Every year that I come to TEDxSanAntonio it makes me very proud of our city and our region about all of the interesting things that are happening here.”

This is the biggest TEDxSanAntonio ever, said Susan Price, the event’s organizer. The event, now in its fifth year, has a core organizing committee of seven people and 40 volunteers, Price said. While the first event held at Trinity University had just a few hundred people, this one attracted more than 650 people. TEDx is based on the TED conference, an annual event focused on spreading ideas about technology, entertainment and design, but TEDxSanAntonio is organized locally under a license from TED.

“We try to feature ideas that are springing up, and around and about San Antonio,” Price said. “We fly a few speakers in every year with ideas that are relevant to San Antonio.”

One of those speakers was Trevor Muir, a teacher at Kent Innovation High School in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He received a standing ovation following his talk on changing schools to an environment of engagement in which students tackle projects and solve problems in the real world.

His students learned about World War II by interviewing veterans in the community and creating film documentaries, which they later showed to the entire community. His students also created websites and projects for immigrants new to their area so they would know how to do simple things, most people take for granted, like take a public bus or turn on the lights.

Susan Price, founder of TEDxSanAntonio

Susan Price, founder of TEDxSanAntonio

This year’s TEDxSanAntonio theme, “Ideas in Action” means the community doesn’t just want to discuss ideas, but they want to put them into motion, Price said.
“We’re giving them a call to action,” she said.

Jorge Amodio, an engineer, attends TEDxSanAntonio every year.

“It’s always inspiring,” Amodio said. “It’s a great community to share what you know and to learn from others.”

The speakers evoke emotions from the audience ranging from laughter to tears. Molly Cox and Victor Landa served as the emcees for the event and provided light-hearted transitions between some difficult subjects.

Sarah-Jane Murray, a professor at Baylor University, opened TEDxSanAntonio with a talk on how people are hardwired for stories through neural coupling. She recalled a story from her childhood in Ireland about her Poodle, who yearned to be a sheepdog.

“If you tell a story well, and you’re not just talking about language, you’re causing your brain to fire on all of its cylinders,” Murray said.

The brain of someone listening to a great story mirrors the brain of the person telling the story, Murray said. Stories affect people because they alter their chemistry, she said. When a story is well told, two major chemicals are released into the brain like cortisol for stress and duress and oxytocin for empathy, Murray said.

“Stories are the great levelers of this world not because they eradicate our differences but because they transcend them,” Murray said.

People are 22 times more likely to remember a story than fact alone, she said.

That’s why people have to be careful about the stories they tell, Murray said.

“We need stories that inspire us to greatness,” she said.

Throughout the day, the TEDxSanAntonio speakers did just that.

John Lambert discussed lessons from improv and how the theater taught him how to deal with life’s unscripted twists, turns and tragedies like the death of his wife, Maria Ivania from cancer.

Leezia Dhalla told a story of her life as an undocumented American. She learned just before her 21st birthday that she didn’t have legal papers to stay in the U.S., where she had lived since the age of six. Her family moved from Canada.

Dhalla received a degree from Northwestern University and got a work permit in 2012 that allows her to stay in the U.S. for two more years.

“We try to stay positive but it’s hard to keep your head down and your chin up at the same time,” Dhalla said.

Today, 11 million people are living in the shadows with papers, Dhalla said. Half came here without authorization; the other half came here legally including Dhalla’s family. They waited for their applications for citizenship to process but a series of mistakes happened and the documents never got approved.

She’s hoping immigration reform will give her and her family an opportunity to legally stay in the U.S. permanently. She asked the audience to help make that a reality.

Kori Ashton, founder of WebTegrity, created a painting with the big, bold letters “Inspire,” on stage while she told stories about her family and her mother’s struggle and triumph over Polio. She encouraged the audience to live a great story and inspire someone.

Steve Vrooman, a professor of Communications Students at Texas Lutheran University, encouraged the audience to share more information about themselves with others. That creates a connection that is more than just transactional, he said.

Studies show on social media, followers of a person, brand or company, share just 3 percent to 15 percent of all the content posted. Vrooman contends if the content was about people and not information, they would share more.

“Share more,” he said.

Joshua Singer and Abhinav Suri, cofounders of Apps for Aptitude and School's Out Hackathon.

Joshua Singer and Abhinav Suri, cofounders of Apps for Aptitude and School’s Out Hackathon.

And Joshua Singer and Abhinav Suri, two high school seniors, encouraged the audience to hack or create something new. They want to create a hacker culture in San Antonio. They’ve launched a company, Apps for Aptitude to encourage others and they host an annual School’s Out Hackathon for high school students.

Luz Cristal Glangchai, an engineer, wants to encourage more girls to become engineers. She founded VentureLab in San Antonio. The nonprofit organization runs a series of programs geared at kids as young as five to high school age to get them interested in entrepreneurship and experiment in the science, technology, engineering and math fields. Three student-run companies from VentureLab have raised more than $240,000, according to Glangchai.


TedXSanAntonio Takes Place Saturday at Rackspace

Ideas-In-Action-TEDxSanAntonio-280wFor five years, a group of San Antonio’s best and brightest have put on TedXSanAntonio and it’s quite a show.

This year, the theme is “Ideas in Action” and features a variety of speakers on diverse topics ranging from cultivating a hacker culture to nurturing girls in technology to how to tackle the growing epidemic of diabetes.

The event kicks off at 8:30 a.m. with breakfast and exhibits at Rackspace Hosting’s events center at its headquarters in the former Windsor Park Mall in San Antonio.

The talks begin at 10 a.m. and run until 5 p.m. with a break for lunch and an after party on site that runs until 8 p.m.

Online ticket sales ended Tuesday. If tickets are still available at the door, they will cost $100 each.

The speakers include: (description supplied by TedXSanAntonio)

Kori Ashton, Co-Owner of WebTegrity
Live a Great Story and Inspire Someone!

Clara Brenner, CEO, Tumml
Why social impact startups are set up to fail

Leezia Dhalla, Executive Communications Specialist, Rackspace
Hiding In Plain Sight: My Life As An Undocumented American

Eric Anthony Dorsa, Wine Steward
Dragged Out of the Closet

Pliny Fisk III, Founder and Co-Director, Center for Maximum Potential Building Systems
A Different Future for the Planet, Naturally

Luz Cristal S. Glangchai, Founder and CEO, VentureLab
From Stand-up to Start-up: Growing Girl Techies and Entrepreneurs

Laurie Ann Guerrero, Poet Laureate of San Antonio
What I Learned from My City

Mitch Hagney, Chief Executive Officer of LocalSprout
Distributed Urban Agriculture

John Lewis Lambert, Actor, Comedy Sportz
Strength in Surrender: Onstage and in Life

Leo Lopez III, Medical Student, University of Texas School of Medicine San Antonio
The New Drug Trade

Rhonda M. Martin, Ph.D.
Accomplished Program Manager, USAA
Destructive Leadership and the Millennial Workforce

Harry Max, VP Product & Design, Rackspace
The Problem is Not the Problem

Trevor Muir, Teacher, Kent Innovation High School (Grand Rapids, Michigan)
School Should Take Place in the Real World

Oscar J. Muñoz, Director, Texas A&M Colonias Program
Third World in Texas: Myths and Realities

Sarah-Jane “SJ” Murray, Story Rhetoric expert, Baylor University
Hardwired for Story

Dr. Thomas Schlenker, Director, San Antonio Metropolitan Health District
Getting Serious About Diabesity

Suzanne B. Scott, General Manager, San Antonio River Authority
Confessions of the San Antonio River

Cindy A. Sebek, Founder, Gracious Gift Wines
Facing Your Fears with a Purpose

Joshua Singer and Abhinav Suri, Co-founders, Apps for Aptitude
The Birth of a Hacker Culture

Steven S. Vrooman, Professor of Communication Studies, Texas Lutheran University
Our Brains are A’Twitter

Chacho & Brance, The Borderland Blues Experience
Lorenzo “Chacho” Saldana – Vocals, Harmonica, Guitar
and Brance Arnold – Guitar, Vocals

Finding Your Noble Cause

Founder of Silicon Hills News

Nick Longo, co-founder and director of Geekdom, photo courtesy of TEDxSanAntonio

Nick Longo, co-founder and director of Geekdom, photo courtesy of TEDxSanAntonio

At TEDxSanAntonio, Nick Longo, co-founder of Geekdom, walked onto the stage, sat on a chair and started to read from a book labeled “Hope, Dream and Inspire.”
But the story he told wasn’t a fairy tale. In fact, it was Longo’s own entrepreneurial journey and how his experiences and those of Graham Weston, chairman and co-founder of Rackspace, led them to create Geekdom, a collaborative coworking space for geeks in the heart of San Antonio. The two-year-old startup has come to be known as “a place where startups are born.”
“Every entrepreneur has a story,” Longo said. “A story of their success and a journey of their failures to get there.”
“I believe we are all entrepreneurs,” Longo said. “We were born this way. It’s in our DNA – some a little and some a lot.”
Kids learn from an early age how to become entrepreneurs from running lemonade stands, mowing lawns, working jobs and lessons in school, Longo said.
“Entrepreneurship is not just business,” he said. “Business is the mindset. Entrepreneurship is the heart set. Because of frustration, desperation or a passion you cannot let go.”
To succeed as an entrepreneur, Longo said he believes people need to find their “noble cause.” But they can only do that when they conquer their fears, he said.
Next, Longo shared “a little bit” of his story.
He recounted how he grew up poor in rough neighborhoods and lived in the projects. And when he was 12, he had a friend named Roman, who was a pale kid with black hair, “who everyone took turns picking on,” Longo said.
“We collected baseball cards together,” he said. “We added aluminum foil to the ends of walkie-talkies to talk to space and into the unknown. We were the different ones.”
Longo told a tale about going to Roman’s house one day and how he stole a $100 bill from Roman’s birthday card. He avoided going over to Roman’s house for the next few weeks for fear of being found out. Then Roman’s mother showed up at his house with all of Roman’s birthday cards in her arms. Longo thought he was in big trouble.
“She told me Roman had an asthma attack the night before and died,” Longo said. “And she handed me those cards and said he would have wanted me to have them. I was never able to say goodbye, never able to say I was sorry and never able to give him that $100 bucks back from his birthday card. I held those cards in my arms like they were him. I was lost. And to this day, I still have those cards.”
For the next 15 years Longo struggled and wandered to find his way. He tried to start different businesses.
“I was in the Air Force. I was a racing Greyhound trainer – the dogs, not the buses,” Longo said.
Then, in 1994, he opened a coffee house in Corpus Christi by maxing out his wife’s credit card.
“After a year, like a lot of other things I tried to do, the coffee house wasn’t really working,” Longo said.
He decided to offer free Internet access.
“What I didn’t know is we ended up being one of the first Internet cafes in the world and I ended up making the first commercial website in Corpus,” he said.
The story spread quickly through the local press and soon Longo’s phone was ringing off the hook with everybody in Corpus wanting him to create a website for them.
“So I started making websites for $500 to $1,000 a pop when I wasn’t making espresso,” Longo said.
No good tools existed for creating websites back then, Longo said. He created the websites but he realized that the work was really hard and time consuming because his customers wanted changes all the time.
“Then one day my world changed forever,” Longo said. “When someone asked for yet another change. I was angry. The coffee house wasn’t doing well and I was desperate not to fail again. In an outburst that could be heard a block away, I yelled these people need software so they can make their own bleeping websites.”
That’s when Longo realized that he should create software to let them do that.
“I found my noble cause,” Longo said. “I would empower and help people get on the web.”
With a dial up modem and a $500 home built computer, Longo set out to take on the software industry, but he didn’t know how to make software. That’s when he had an epiphany.
“No idea I had done alone had worked,” Longo said. “Maybe that was the problem all along. I needed to collaborate with other people that liked what I liked. That had the same passion, the same noble cause. I needed help.”
He teamed up with a regular customer who was a computer programmer. Together they created the Coffeecup HTML editor. They released it in 1996 and it was a hit, Longo said. He made more web design software. He helped “people fulfill their dreams just like I did. This was the noble cause that led me here.”
Next, Longo “skipped forward a few chapters” to recount how Geekdom was created to help entrepreneurs.
“A couple of years ago Graham Weston, the Chairman of Rackspace and myself got together and said wouldn’t it be cool if there was a place where startups were born – not the Internet but a physical place, a place where developers and designers and entrepreneurs could get together and work on their ideas in person,” Longo said. “We would call it Geekdom. You see in the urban dictionary it means a place where more than two geeks gather.”
images-2Geekdom would offer memberships and desks at a low cost so everyone had a chance to meet their team, to build their dream, Longo said. Each member would be asked to give one hour a week of their time back to another member or do a workshop once a month on their expertise, he said.
“The noble cause of Geekdom is to empower people by creating a center where every kind of geek and entrepreneur can go to build a business,” Longo said. “A place where meeting someone in the hallway and sharing an idea would be happenstance and serendipity and something would get built right then and there.”
Geekdom is about creating an organic ecosystem that lets its members build and develop it, Longo said.
“I believe if we take people and place them together to collaborate and help each other they will change the world,” Longo said. “They will fulfill their noble causes.”
He also believes “mentorship is the new classroom.”
“We are all makers of something. Every person we meet knows something we don’t,” Longo said. “I learn from people that are likeminded that share my passions.”
Longo said he didn’t learn this lesson until after he sold his company and that he burnt out because he was working hard all the time.
“I needed someone to turn to who wasn’t there. I needed all of you,” Longo said. “There’s no reason to waste potential. Every person in the wrong job, or kid without a dream yet, can do what we do.”
It’s our responsibility to show them the way, he said.
“I’m an entrepreneur,” Longo said. “I was born this way. I was made this way. I cannot talk to myself or to the unknown for help. I can help you and we can help each other. So what would your story be?”
Longo ended his talk by pulling out a walkie-talkie with an aluminum foil antenna.
“Hey Roman, are we even yet?” Longo asked.

Full disclosure: Geekdom was a sponsor of Silicon Hills News

Mind Blown Open at TEDxSanAntonio

Founder of Silicon Hills News

Graham Weston, chairman and co-founder of Rackspace, welcomes the TEDxSanAntonio crowd to his company's headquarters, known as The Castle.

Graham Weston, chairman and co-founder of Rackspace, welcomes the TEDxSanAntonio crowd to his company’s headquarters, known as The Castle.

TEDxSanAntonio spotlighted urban parks, courthouse architecture, mental illness, sex, death, jail, space exploration, entrepreneurship, antibiotic resistant bacteria and more on Saturday.
A record 500 people attended the daylong event at Rackspace’s headquarters. They listened to 18-minute talks on the overarching theme “Minds Wide Open.” The 19 speakers elicited a whole range of emotions from the audience including laughter and tears.
In addition to the talks, Julia Langenberg, an aerialist, performed an awe-inspiring dance routine in which she climbed, dangled and twirled on fabric hung from the rafters.
Myric Polhemus, director of human resources at H-E-B Grocery Company, encouraged leaders to embrace malcontents in their organizations to lead to greater innovation and creativity.
Nick Longo, founder of CoffeeCup Software and co-founder of Geekdom, shares his entrepreneurial journey at TEDxSanAntonio

Nick Longo, founder of CoffeeCup Software and co-founder of Geekdom, shares his entrepreneurial journey at TEDxSanAntonio

Nick Longo, co-founder of Geekdom, a collaborative co-working space in downtown San Antonio, promoted the benefits of entrepreneurship.
“We are all makers of something,” Longo said.
This is for the fourth year for the local TEDx event, which is an offshoot of the exclusive invite-only TED conference held every year in Monterrey. TED stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design. It is known as a place where people discuss big ideas. Susan Price with Firecat Studio organized the local event along with a group of volunteers.
Rackspace’s Chairman Graham Weston began by welcoming the crowd to Rackspace and acknowledging Jason Thomas, a hero and a former Marine sergeant who helped rescue people during 9-11.
Weston also introduced Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff, who spearheaded the effort to create BiblioTech, a bookless library filled with digital editions, on the city’s Southside.
Wolff announced the county would be installing a branch of the BiblioTech in the lobby of Rackspace, giving its employees access to all of its 10,000 digital volumes.
The juxtaposition of the first speaker, Anastasia McKenna, known as Miss Anastasia, a professional storyteller at the Twig Bookshop in San Antonio, following the BiblioTech presentation, was perplexing.
McKenna performed excerpts from the children’s classic book “The Gingerbread Man.”
“Joy is the sharing of books,” she said.
Then she pleaded with the audience to read books to their children and to minimize their time in front of screens.
“I want to see more books and less screens in the world,” she said.
People can touch the soul of a child with a book, she said.
“Stories can make a child believe anything is possible,” she said.
Tearfully, McKenna recounted the recent death of her niece and told the audience that no one knows how much time they have on this earth. Don’t plop a child down in front of a screen, when you could take that opportunity to engage them with a book, she said.
In an inspirational talk, Eric Fletcher, an author, speaker and marketing executive, told people not to let benchmarks and measurements lead to limits in their lives.
“Vision is not defined by what the eye can see but by possibility,” Fletcher said.
Jorge Amodio, a Geekdom member, shows off his DIY electronic TEDxSanAntonio name badge

Jorge Amodio, a Geekdom member, shows off his DIY electronic TEDxSanAntonio name badge

Although his mother received the diagnosis that her son was legally blind at a young age, she didn’t accept it. She enrolled Fletcher in little league and had him participate in the same activities as his peers. That showed Fletcher a disability didn’t make him less of a human being and he shouldn’t allow benchmarks to define the boundaries of his life.
He encouraged everyone to look beyond the labels, boundaries and limits others might place on them and to create a life they want.
Jason Fischer, a psychotherapist, also told the audience that the most destructive word in the world is “need.”
In a rather controversial statement, he said there are no needs. Most people would argue that humans need food, shelter, clothing, love and some money. But Fischer doesn’t agree.
“We don’t need anything at all,” Fischer said, “Nothing is a prerequisite for happiness.”
The word “need” creates a negative emotional response in our psyches, he said. Just using the word can lead to unhappiness, he said.
“You never need to say the word need,” Fischer said. “Whatever you want is perfect. You can live your life accordingly to what you want.”
Except if you’re in prison.
Ryan Cox, an attorney, said one in 30 people are under court supervision or in jail in the U.S. with 2.3 million currently incarcerated.
“We are the largest jailer in the world,” Cox said.
And the problem is getting worse. Sixty percent of the people who leave U.S. prisons return to them within five years, Cox said.
“Our prisons are dehumanizing,” and that leads to recidivism, he said.
Cox said the U.S. should treat its prisoners better. He pointed to Norway’s prison system as one that the U.S. should emulate. They treat their prisoners with dignity and house them in cells that look more like dorm rooms.
“In the U.S. we already spend $40,000 per prisoner annually – we should get a better return on our investment,” Cox said.
Liza Long, an advocate for mental illness care, speaks out at TEDxSanAntonio

Liza Long, an advocate for mental illness care, speaks out at TEDxSanAntonio

Liza Long, who penned the essay “I am Adam Lanza’s Mother” in a blog post following the attacks on Sandy Hook Elementary School that left 20 children and six adults dead, gave a heart-wrenching talk on helping children with mental illness.
Long’s teenage son, who she calls Michael, not his real name, has struggled with mental illness since the age of 8 and has been arrested and jailed as a result of his violent outbursts.
“When you’re the mother of a child of mental illness you’re not supposed to talk about it,” Long said.
One in five children in the United States has a serious and debilitating mental disorder today, Long said.
This year, 4,600 young people, between the ages of 10 and 24, will die of suicide, ten times the 437 deaths from cancer, Long said.
Yet the largest treatment centers for mental illness in the U.S. are in the Cook County Jail in Illinois, Riker’s Island Prison and Los Angeles County Jail, Long said.
The reason Long, a single mother of four who lives is Boise, Idaho, wrote the essay and continues to speak out about mental illness is that she wants to change the world and put an end to the stigma about mental illness.
Long received a standing ovation from the crowd.

Dave Sims of Rackspace made this video recapping TEDxSanAntonio.

Full disclosure: Geekdom was a sponsor of Silicon Hills News.

TEDxSanAntonio to feature tech entrepreneur G.P. Singh

The organizers of TedxSanAntonio selected Gurvinder Pal “G.P.” Singh, founder of San Antonio-based Karta Technologies, as one of its speakers for next weekend’s event.
Singh now serves as CEO of Paras Capital Management. He will speak on his “Entrepreneurial Journey: From Expert Technologist to Servant Leader.”
Singh started Karta Technologies in his garage and sold it in 2007 to NCI, Inc., a government contractor in the information technology industry, for nearly $65 million.
Karta, a privately-held company, worked as a military and government contractor as well as for commercial customers. At the time of the sale, Karta had more than 400 employees and offices in 25 locations.
The second TEDxSanAntonio will be held at Trinity University’s Stieren Theatre on Oct. 15. Last year, about 250 people attended the inaugural TEDxSanAntonio event. TEDx is affiliated with the TED Conference held in Long Beach, Calif. every year. But the x stands for independently organized.

Last year’s event featured a speech by Rackspace Chairman Graham Weston on treating employees well.
“What we all want is to be valued members of a winning team on an inspiring mission,” Weston said.

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